Sarah Ann PARSONS
Name Variations Mary Ann1 alias Sarah JAMES
Father John PARSONS b.c. 18152 m. 1851 d. aft. 1877
Mother Bridget aka Margaret Bridget McCABE aka McKAY b.c. 18333 m. 18514 d. aft. 1889
Inmate Sarah Ann PARSONS b. 18525 m. 1873 (see below) d. 18836
Brother John Edward PARSONS b. 18557 m. 18758 Ann STAPLETON d. 19199
Brother Edwin Henry PARSONS b. 185710 m. none - d. 185911
Sister unnamed PARSONS b. 185912 m. d.
Sister Clara PARSONS b. 186113 m. 187914 Francis WALL d. 189815
Brother Alfred PARSONS b. 186416 m. none - d. 186717
Sister Ada M. PARSONS b. 186618 m. none - d. 186619
Brother William Henry PARSONS b. 186820 m. d. 193121
Husband (1) Timothy HOW b. m. none22 d.
Husband (2) William JAMES b. m. 187323 d.
Son William H. PARSONS b. 187224 m. none - d. 187325
Description
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father John26 25 5' 3" light brown hazel ruddy and much freckled two scars over right eyebrow; crown on upper; man and woman; S G x J P; heart pierced with two darts inside lower left arm
Mother Bridget27 59 5' 1" brown brown fresh
Inmate Sarah28 26 5' 5¼" brown brown
Inmate Sarah29 26 5' 4½" brown blue
12845029423_4aebdb21ed.jpg

Sarah Ann PARSONS alias JAMES (1878)
Image Courtesy of State Records NSW: Photo: 1972; p. 229a; NRS: 2138; [3/6042] Reel: 5099

Sarah Ann was brought to the station-house by her mother on the evening of 24 June 1868, where she was charged with being in the habit of wandering about the streets with common prostitutes.30 She appeared in court the following day where her father attended and stated that she was under sixteen, often left home for a week at a time, associated with girls of the town, would not remain at service and had no means of support. Sarah was sent to Newcastle31 and entered the school on 27 June. Her parents were named in the Entrance Book that also noted that she was a Catholic. Sarah could read the third book and write in copy book which was one of the highest educational standards of any admission recorded in the Industrial School Entrance Book. Her age in the official record was written as fifteen but there was also an unreadable age penciled beside it.32 This age almost certainly read 19 because in July, the superintendent Agnes KING wrote in a communication to the Colonial Secretary. She indicated that Sarah was 'in reality 19.' The age provided to KING was without doubt a fabrication by Sarah to expedite her early release from the school. Her declaration was subsequently proved to be incorrect by the authorities.33

On 2 July 1868, less than a fortnight after her admission,34 Sarah, Mary Ann HOPKINS and Grace CRAWFORD, undertook one of the most successful and well publicised escapes made from the school. KING reported her account of the incident to the Colonial Secretary prior to the arrest of the three escapees and identified that the girls had escaped at 5.30 in the afternoon.35 Newspapers reported that the trio were followed by one member of the Newcastle Police who failed to catch them. Although some reports indicated that they walked about half the way,36 they must have travelled almost the entire way from Newcastle by sea due to their relatively quick recapture in Sydney. How the trio paid for their passage is unknown. The Police Gazette reported on their escape and described Sarah as tall and thin and about nineteen years of age.37

The Escapades from the Industrial School.38
Two of the three girls who have recently escaped from the Industrial School, Barrack-square, have been retaken in Sydney, and were brought to Newcastle yesterday morning in the steamer. It would seem that, on effecting their escape, they immediately proceeded towards Lake Macquarie, which they crossed in a boat. They then made for Brisbane Water, where they fell in with a schooner, in which they obtained a passage to Sydney. The police received information that the girls were on their way to the metropolis via Brisbane Water, and, of course, telegraphed to head-quarters to that effect. The wanderers got safe to Sydney, and the apprehension of two of them took place shortly after their arrival there. The third is still at large, but her capture may be speedily looked for. She is supposed to have taken refuge with some friends in Sydney, of which city the whole three are natives. Their respective ages were from sixteen to eighteen years.

After the recapture of the last girl, all three were returned to Newcastle on the morning of 8 July in the steamer. Their arrival in Newcastle occurred the day before the first riot at the school occurred. There was no interview record for Sarah made after this riot by Frederick CANE even though Mary Ann and Grace both gave statements. It is therefore considered unlikely that she was one of the ringleaders.

On 21 July, only a couple of weeks after this escape, a further incident occurred and KING reported that Mary Ann HOPKINS and Sarah had:

… absented themselves from muster, and although sent for three times, they refused to attend. The Sergeant on duty accompanied me to the Hospital where they were sitting in open defiance of the rules, I entreated them to obey, when Sarah Ann Parsons replied "I have made up my mind not to surrender." They were then removed from the Cell. … [They] commenced smashing their utensils, battering the door, screaming and yelling, I had all possible articles removed with the exception of their beds and bedding; while seeing this done they said, "Stop until Mr Walker39 comes, we have got something to tell him now."40

Sarah made another escape on 3 October with Eliza O'BRIEN. The full details of her escape were reported to the Colonial Secretary by KING on 13 October 1868.

They were safe in their dormitories at 11 o'clock p.m. They made their escape by thrusting out the fastening of a window facing the verandah and broke open the Clothes Store Room by pushing a pole through one of the windows, from which they extracted some of the clothing they escaped in. They piled up some stones on a Bucket and climbed over the Fence next [to] the residence of the Police Magistrate.41 They were brought back by the Police at 3 o'clock a.m. and placed in the Cells at the Guard House where they will remain until the decision of the Honble. the Colonial Secretary.42

No record of any punishment of Sarah has been found after this incident. On 20 November 1868, Sarah again absconded with six other girls. A further two girls made a separate escape shortly afterwards. KING named them in her letter to the Colonial Secretary on 21 November 1868,43 stating that all except one44 were returned by two constables at eleven o’clock that night – half an hour after they had escaped. All were placed in the cells. The girls had:

… forced open the windows of No. 4 dormitory, they then climbed over the fence near Mr SCOTT’s residence … [they were recaptured] and placed in the cells.45

Sarah had spent nearly a year in the school when, after the change in the superintendency of the school, CLARKE wrote to the Colonial Secretary requesting permission to place Sarah as a general servant with Mr W. LEWIS, the Clerk of Works at Newcastle. In his letter of 10 April 1869, he stated that Sarah J. [sic] 'is past seventeen (17) years of age and her character since I have had charge of the institution has been good.'46 On 13 April, CLARKE’s report stated that he had sent Sarah Ann for a 'few day’s trial' to Mr. M. LEWIS [?] before making a final appointment as a general servant.47 Although no letter has yet been identified, it is believed that Sarah Ann's mother had written to CLARKE around this time requesting that Sarah be returned to her family as on 17 March 1869, CLARKE wrote a response to her at her home at 6 Ultimo Street, Glebe. He reiterated that Sarah's behaviour had been good and said:48

she is willing to work and when she leaves this Institution she will, I have every reason to believe, make a useful good girl if kindly treated, and should you wish to remove her to your home your best course would be to apply to the Honble the Colonial Secretary stating that you are able and willing to support her.

John PARSONS subsequently sent CLARKE's correspondence together with his own letter expressing his relief that Sarah had improved, to the Colonial Secretary and requested her release from Newcastle. The Inspector General of Police investigated John and Bridget and supported their application stating that:

Both Mr Parsons and his wife are persons of good repute. He has for some time been employed in the Railway Department and earns £2.2.0 a week, He states if his application be granted he intends either to obtain his daughter a respectable situation or apprentice her to any trade she may wish.

Sarah Ann was erroneously referred to as Mary Ann by the Colonial Secretary's Department in one part of this correspondence.49 On 29 April 1869, the Entrance Book recorded that Sarah had been discharged to her parents by order of the Colonial Secretary.50 This discharge seems not to have gone well as in his letter to the Colonial Secretary on 1 August, 1870, CLARKE stated that Sarah:

… was very wild from her childhood, was very troublesome when here and I have heard unfavourable accounts of her since she left – I do not know that she is now in Sydney.

In 1872 Sarah was almost certainly the mother of the illegitimate child William H. PARSONS, by the man Timothy HOW. HOW was ordered to pay five shillings a week for twelve months for William’s upkeep.51 Sadly William died early in 1873. On 24 February 1873, Sarah married William JAMES. The notice of the marriage in the newspapers confirmed her second name provided on her baptism and also confirmed that her father, who gave permission for her to marry as she was under that age of twenty-one, was John PARSONS of Ultimo Street, Glebe. William was the son of John JAMES.52 Little additional information was provided in the church record but the register of St James, Sydney, further noted that William was 'of full age' and that Sarah was twenty,53 therefore matching her baptism date exactly. No children have yet been identified for the couple and the marriage may have ended quite quickly as, by 1 July 1873, less than six months later, the couple appeared to have separate as William was advertising in the newspapers.

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William's Advertisement [1873]
Image courtesy of Trove - Digitalized Newspapers
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)54

From the time of this announcement reports of Sarah PARSONS aka Sarah JAMES begin to appear in the Sydney courts. It is considered almost certain that all these appearances refer to the Newcastle admission. In August 1873 Sarah was charged with riotous behaviour.55 A year later in August 1874 she was again charged with the same offence.56 In July 1876 she was charged with obscene language.57 As Sarah JAMES alias PARSONS, she appeared in the Sydney Quarter Sessions58 on 28 May 1877, after an appearance at the Water Police Court ten days earlier.59 Sarah and her co-accused, George HILTON, were found guilty of robbery with violence60 and she was sentenced to two years hard labour in Darlinghurst Gaol.61 The John PARSONS who was arrested with the couple was discharged.62 The name of this third offender does suggest that either Sarah's father or brother was involved in this incident. Darlinghurst Gaol records from 1878 provide a photograph of Sarah and this document confirmed that she had been born in Bathurst in 1853. In February 1879 part of Sarah's sentence was remitted and she was released early. The Police Gazette recorded her as Sarah JAMES alias PARSONS.63 Sarah soon appeared again in the Water Police Court64 charged with vagrancy65 but she paid the 40 shilling fine and was released on 26 April.66 Less than a week later, on 1 May 1879, Sarah was arrested as a suspected person.

Edward Fuller, William Thomas, alias The Brusher, Sarah James, and Mary Ann White were charged by constable Sproule with being suspected persons frequenting Pitt-street for the purpose of committing a felony. … The case against the four prisoners, three of whom are noted thieves and convicted felons, was a clear one … Not long after midnight this morning, Sproule saw the four prisoners in company in Pitt-street, and knowing what kind of characters they were, he watched them, and at length saw them disappear into Rowe-street. On coming to the corner of Rowe-street, or Brougham-place as it was called till lately, he saw Thomas, alias The Brusher, stooping in front of Mr. Hinchy's door, and apparently busily engaged with the lock. Fuller and the two women were standing round attempting to screen Thomas from the observation of any possible passers-by. … [T]hey immediately scattered in all directions. Sproule … traced them up to Castlereagh-street and back by a roundabout route to Pitt-street, where they made an investigation of the doorway of Zeplin's Hotel. The two females had returned again to Hinchy's door, and Sproule apprehended James after a smart chase …

For this offence Sarah received another sentence with hard labour67 and she was admitted to Darlinghurst for six months.68 The record is unclear but it appeared that her sentence was repealed although no record of any repeal has yet been found. Her date of release was recorded as 31 October 1879, and this month of discharge was confirmed in the Police Gazette.69 Mary Ann WHITE and William THOMAS were found guilty of further crimes at the Quarter Sessions in June so received longer sentences.70 Edward FULLAR's sentence was remitted71 after he produced a receipt for the watch that he was carrying.72

An intriguing advertisement, placed by a Sarah JAMES on 27 November 1879, about a month after her release and thought to have been written by the Newcastle admission stated:

I, SARAH JAMES, do hereby give notice to WILLIAM JAMES, my Husband if he does not return to me within fourteen days from this date I intend to marry again. SARAH JAMES. November 26, 1879.

While this advertisement was likely to have been placed by the Newcastle girl, no suitable remarriage has been found until 1883 as either JAMES or PARSONS and it may be that the couple reconciled for a short time although no evidence for this has been located.

Further incidents almost without any doubt involving Sarah appear under the name Sarah JAMES. In 1880 she was again arrested and described as a prostitute behaving in an indecent manner in Phillip Street. She was again admitted to Darlinghurst Gaol for six months. The Police Gazette identified both her names after this arrest73 although the Darlinghurst Gaol records on 16 July 1880, only identified her as Sarah JAMES. She was released on 15 January 1881.74 Her trial on 16 or 17 July 1880, at the Water Police Court has not yet been found. The Police Gazette for January 1881 announced that Sarah would be released during that month75 and a description was published once her sentence ended. This description contained errors as it is considered almost entirely certain that the gazette contained the erroneous detail that she had been tried in Dubbo Police Sessions.76

Sarah was very likely to also be the woman who was frequently admitted to gaol as Sarah JAMES for drunkenness and obscene language until about 1882. There are few descriptions in either the Police Gazette or the gaol records for this woman and because those records are inconsistent, it is still uncertain whether these references are for the Newcastle admission as it is possible that there may have been a different woman in Sydney at this time using the same name. The possibilities that Sarah had been admitted under another surname such as JONES or HILTON have not yet been investigated.

Sarah died as Sarah JAMES in the Sydney Infirmary on 31 May 1883. The matching registration on the NSW BDM Index has not been viewed but it identified that her parents were John and Margaret B. The B. for the mother's second name is believed to be Bridget. The death was confirmed with both the Rookwood burial details for Sarah James on 2 June 1883,77 and a Funeral Notice placed by her mother, identified as Margaret PARSONS that read:

THE FRIENDS of Mrs. MARGARET PARSONS are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of her late beloved DAUGHTER, Mrs. Sarah James ; to move from the Sydney Infirmary, THIS (Saturday) AFTERNOON, at half-past 1 o'clock, to Necropolis.
HART and FERGUSON, 835m George-street ; and at No. 1, Glebe-street, Glebe.78

There are no other marriages of a Sarah PARSONS to anyone named JAMES before this death occurred so it is unlikely to refer to anyone else.

Note: Sarah can't be the woman 'the relict of William JAMES' who died at the reported age of 32 in Sydney in September 1879, as the Newcastle Sarah was confirmed to have been in Darlinghurst Gaol after this date. This woman was also too old to be the Newcastle admission having been born in about 1847.79

Family

Sarah’s parents were recorded in the Entrance Book as John and Bridget PARSONS.80 No suitable baptism on the NSW BDM Index exactly matched a child with these parents but the baptism for Sarah PARSONS indexed during 1852, actually showed that Sarah had been born on 5 February 1853, and had been baptised by J. KEATING in the Bathurst Catholic register on 8 May 1853.81 The baptism recorded that Sarah's father was a labourer at Kelso and, because this was a Catholic registration, Sarah's mother's maiden name of McCABE, was recorded. The NSW BDM Index is clearly in error for this baptism and it should read V70 1853/1264. Newspaper reports at the time of Sarah's escape from Newcastle identified that she was ‘a native of Sydney’. Being a 'native ' of a particular area at this time usually referred to a place of birth rather than a place of residence but it is believed that this error was caused by the consideration that all these escapees had initially been arrested in Sydney and Sarah had lived in Sydney for about seven years by this date. Gaol records from Sarah's life after she left Newcastle did confirm that she had been born in Bathurst. On 7 July 1868, an investigation into Sarah's age was undertaken by the Inspector General of Police at the request of the Colonial Secretary. The Inspector General of Police identified that Sarah had been born on 5 July 1853. He didn't identify how he had found this birthdate82 but because he had had only a day to confirm the date, it is considered likely that he asked Sarah's parents, as had been the case with Margaret POOLE. There had been no time for him to have contacted the church in Kelso to confirm the exact date. It is believed that the mismatch of the two birthdates was caused by the faulty memory of whoever was the informant of this fact.

No marriage for John PARSONS and Bridget McCABE has been identified on the NSW BDM Index but there is no doubt that the marriage record has been omitted from the index. John and Bridget had married at St Stephen's Catholic Church in Bathurst on 16 October 1851. Only Bridget signed the record and John made his mark. John declared that he was from Scotland and that Bridget was from England. Both were residents of Bathurst. Online trees identify marriages in both 1851 and 1852 and these were likely recorded on the birth registrations for various children. Sarah was their first child and baptisms and registrations for other siblings were recorded in the Bathurst area until 1861. From 1864 births for the couple were registered in areas around Sydney. The registration for the couple's youngest son William Henry PARSONS, identified that by December 1868 they had one son and three daughters who were alive and two sons and one daughter who had died.83 The three deceased children were Edwin, Alfred, who had died in 186784 but whose birth was registered in 1864 where his mother was named as Margaret, and Ada. The four living children were John, Sarah and two unnamed daughters. One of these unnamed girls was without doubt Clara PARSONS. The use of the name Clara also occurred in the family of Sarah's brother John PARSONS and his wife Annie STAPLETON. Clara PARSONS died at the age of 38 in 1898 so her birth has been attributed to the 1861 registration although this may not be correct as the other unnamed daughter has not yet been identified. The PARSONS family does not seem to have been very close as it is unusual even for this time that when Family Notices were inserted in the papers, none of the siblings were mentioned. Consequently, no newspaper evidence has yet been located that supports any links between John, his wife or their family.

John PARSONS was the informant when his son was born in 1868. He stated that he was 53 and had been born in Southampton, Gloucestershire, England.85 This location does not exist and it cannot be ascertained whether this was a deliberate falsehood, which seems unlikely, or an error by the transcriber of the event, perhaps due to an accent. John was recorded in the Entrance Book as a labourer86 the same occupation he had at the time of Sarah's 1853 baptism.87 When Sarah's brother, John Edward, was baptised in March 1855, two years after her birth, the family was still at Kelso but John was described as a mechanic.88 At the time of Sarah's release from Newcastle to her parents, it was recorded that John worked for the Railway Department and these records, when they become available online, may assist with a further identification and possibly even his death.

By December 1868 when William's birth was registered, the PARSONS family was settled in Ultimo Street, Glebe. In 1873 when Sarah married, her marriage notice confirmed this address.89 Sands Directory specified that John PARSONS lived at 6 Ultimo Street, Bay Street,90 in 1870. The Sand's Street Index identified that he was on the south side and that Bay street and Ultimo Street were dual names for the same location. John was still at 6 Ultimo Street, Glebe, in 1871, 1873 and 1876 and the street index confirmed this address in 1875. Before 1869 there were two men named John PARSONS that appeared in the 1866 directory. It is believed that John was the labourer living in Vincent's Lane, Balmain, as the birth registration for Alfred PARSONS in 1864 was made in Balmain. By 1877 John was probably living at 11 Ultimo Road but after this date further tracking must be undertaken as it may be that the family had moved.

In January 1866, John was sentenced to six months in Darlinghurst Gaol91 after being convicted of stealing large quantities of tea and sugar from his previous employer.92 He stated that he had been born in England in about 1817 and identified that the Maitland in 1840 was his ship of arrival. This ship was a convict transport. John PARSONS was a farm labourer who had been sentenced to 15 years transportation at Worcester Quarter Sessions on 30 December 1839, after being convicted of highway robbery. He had been born in Gloucestershire.93 He received his ticket of leave, Number 47/112, in Bathurst in 1847 and a conditional pardon, Number 51/346, in 1851.94 When he married in Bathurst no permission to marry was required as he was free. His age and birth location match that of the convict and the Darlinghurst Gaol admission showed that he had moved to Sydney. Most family researchers have accepted that this John PARSONS was their ancestor.

In May 1877 there is little doubt that John or possibly his son, was involved in an incident when his daughter Sarah and her co-accused, George HILTON, were found guilty of robbery with violence.95 The John PARSONS arrested with them was discharged96 so there is no way to distinguished between the two men. No appropriate burials have been identified at Rookwood in any graves associated with members of the family.

No appropriate death for John PARSONS has been identified and locating Funeral Notices for family members has proved elusive. It is unknown whether any researchers attributing any deaths for Sarah's father have viewed the available death registrations to confirm the details that they hold. As such, all deaths must be questioned without other supporting evidence such as Family Notices. All deaths to 1900 are listed below. The first would tie in well with the address change from Ultimo Street after 1877. Without viewing the registration no supporting evidence can be located online.

PARSONS JOHN 1526/1880 JOHN DIED SYDNEY SYDNEY
Some online trees identify that John died in August 1880. If this was John's death then Family Notices identified that he lived at Dwyer Street, Sydney and was 56 when he died97 so this man had been born in about 1824. Sands Directory locates him at 4 Dwyer Street in 1879. Dwyer Street is not a great distance from Ultimo Street. This man is about ten years too young to be the Maitland Convict. While the newspaper report or the informant may be in error, if this is the age that was recorded on the registration, without corrobrating evidence also likely recorded on the registration, it must be questioned as this is too great a difference in age. This is however the best death on the NSW BDM Index until 1900 yet found.

The following information has been left to avoid repeating it.
Other possible deaths:
PARSONS JOHN 2136/1879 HENRY ANNA SYDNEY
PARSONS JOHN W 1674/1882 JOHN W ELLEN SYDNEY
Other trees identified that John died in August 1882.98 Family Notices identify that this man was a storeman and had been buried in Waverley Cemetery.99 He had lived at Bettington Street, Miller's Point and surnames in the notices link his death to family members with the surname MAHER.100 No age was identified in the notices but there have been no links yet found with this PARSONS family to the surname MAHER.
PARSONS JOHN P 13901/1891 THOMAS H EDITH J ST LEONARDS

Eliminated deaths:
PARSONS JOHN W 1005/1878 JOHN MARGARET SYDNEY
This was a child. The matching birth is 541/1876.
PARSONS JOHN 6530/1881 UNKNOWN UNKNOWN LIVERPOOL
This man died at the Liverpool Asylum. He was 45 so had been born in about 1836.
PARSONS JOHN 6957/1883 AGE 60 YEARS DIED PARRAMATTA PARRAMATTA
This man had a residence in Macquarie Street, Parramatta, and his son John had had a son named Arthur and a wife named Mary.
PARSONS JOHN 12298/1883 AGE 2 YEARS DIED AT SEA MARINE

Unlikely deaths due to location:
PARSONS JOHN 9496/1879 AGE 71 YEARS DIED WELLINGTON WELLINGTON
PARSONS JOHN 9165/1881 UNKNOWN UNKNOWN WAGGA WAGGA
PARSONS JOHN 7256/1888 ROBERT ESTHER DUBBO
PARSONS JOHN 6486/1889 AGE 55 YEARS DIED ALBURY HUME
PARSONS JOHN 3652/1892 JOHN MARY BROKEN HILL
PARSONS JOHN W 11996/1892 JAMES W CAROLINE A SINGLETON
PARSONS JOHN E 15695/1893 AQUILA SARAH WOLLONGONG
PARSONS JOHN 9671/1898 WILLIAM LYDIA HAY
PARSONS JOHN 14500/1899 JOHN DIED ORANGE ORANGE

John was not the van proprietor living in Comber Street, Paddington, as the 1876 directory identified both men at their separate locations and the man who lived in Comber Street, Paddington was at this address in 1867. In 1871 this man was probably was still living in Comber Street, Paddington, near another man named Richard PARSONS, a van man. This man's nephew died identifying a family name for his family as LILLAS.101

Another man was living in Dowling Street, Camperdown in 1873 but in 1871 there was also a doctor of this name living in 245 Albion Street. In 1875 Sands confirmed that the man in Albion Lane was a van proprietor.

It is not believed that John was the man who had been tried at Goulburn and sentenced to 12 months with hard labour in Parramatta Gaol in January 1858 for wounding. He may have worked as a carter or drayman and if so there are many court appearances.

William PARSONS' birth named his mother as Bridget McKAY who had been born in Ireland and was 32 years old.102 She was identified in the Newcastle Industrial School Entrance Book as Bridget and to date the baptism records for Sarah and John in 1853 and 1855 respectively, confirm that her maiden name was McCABE. As Bridget McCABE she had arrived aboard the William and Mary in 1849.103 The evidence for this arrival is scant but the imprisonment of the married woman Bridget PARSONS in Biloela Gaol in March 1889 identified that this woman had arrived on the William and Mary and had been born in Ireland in about 1829.104 Bridget had appeared in court charged with using obscene language.105 The William and Mary indent identified that Bridget McCABE had been born in Rathmore, County Meath, in about 1833. This difference in age at this time in history is not considered to be significant. Bridget was able to read and write which was relatively unusual at this time. She signed the marriage record. Sarah's reading assessment at the time of her admission to the school may be a reflection of her mother's skill as her father was illiterate. Bridget's parents were identified on the indent as Lawrence and Ann and her father was a soldier.106 There is little doubt that this woman was Sarah's mother and this arrival has been attributed to her.

It may be that Bridget was in some way connected to the Mary McCABE who married John FITZGERALD as this couple was using the same church. They lived at Vale Creek. The witnesses at their marriage107 do not assist in identifying any connection.

Bridget also used the name Margaret. There is no indication when or how often this occurred but the 1864 birth of Alfred PARSONS recorded that his mother was Margaret and when Sarah died Margaret identified herself as Margaret PARSONS in the Funeral Notice.108 When Clara died in 1898 her mother was also identified on the NSW BDM Index as Margaret.109

There is little doubt that Sarah's mother, recorded only as Mrs PARSONS, was the woman who submitted the following advertisement into the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 October 1870.

WANTED, by a respectable married woman, a Baby to Wetnurse, that has lost her own.
Apply Mrs. Parsons, Ultimo-street, No. 6, Glebe.

She was also almost certainly the woman described as a ‘landlady’ in an assault case in December 1873, where she was struck by Thomas E. ADKINS.110 ADKINS was arrested by Constable RYAN of Sydney Police and was committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions.111 Searches in Trove for the address, 6 Ultimo Street, uncover different surnames living at that address in the early 1870s. This property was rented by John but he is only recorded at Ultimo Street until 1877.112 Bridget was unlikely to have appeared in court before Sarah’s arrest as appearances for a woman of this name begin about 1856 and the NSW BDM Index strongly suggested that the family was in Bathurst until about 1860. In a case in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 November 1859, a Bridget PARSONS was described as a vegetable hawker but this is not thought to refer to her.

It may be that Bridget was the Mrs Bridget PARSONS living at 6 Burnell Lane off Riley Street in 1887 and in 1888 this woman was likely living at 25 Wood's Lane.

It may be that Bridget was the 57-year-old woman charged with stealing timber from a demolished building in April 1889.113

The 16-year-old Bridget PARSONS whose father was John PARSONS may be a child of Sarah's brother. She had been born in about 1892.114 Significantly this girls father had a step-brother named George BARKER.115This may be a reference to the family as a Biddy PARSONS is mentioned.

No appropriate deaths have been found for Bridget or Margaret PARSONS. Tracking her when it is considered that she changed her name from Bridget to Margaret, is difficult. The death registration for William in 1931 identified his parents as John and Keturah. This origin of this extremely unusual given name is unknown. A name to search for on the NSW BDM Index is extremely difficult to ascertain and whatever she called herself means that she has effectively disappeared. Unfortunately there is no way to cross-check any death or narrow any search using Family Notices.

Some online trees identify that Margaret died in 1892.

Other tree specified that she died on 7 December 1895, and the death was registered in Wickham in Newcastle. The NSW BDM Index identified this death as that of Margaret HOWARTH whose parents were unknown. An In Memoriam from 1896 stated:

HOWARTH.—In loving memory of my dear mother, Margaret Howarth, who died at her residence, Watson-street, Eslington, Newcastle, N.S.W., 7th December, 1895. May her soul rest in peace. Inserted by her loving daughter and son-in-law, Emily and Alexander McMullen.116

Margaret PARSONS had married James HOWARTH in 1886. The marriage was registered in West Maitland117 some distance from Sydney. There was an altercation between Margaret, James and his son Henry, in April 1889.118 The couple separated in about 1891 and alcohol was blamed.119 While Emily may be the other unidentified daughter of John and Bridget who had been born in 1861, no marriage can be identified to an Alexander McMULLAN. Additionally it may be that Margaret HOWARTH may still have been alive in 1904.120 Further work is being undertaken to identify or eliminate this family but it is considered a very unlikely death for Margaret.

The Bridget PARSONS who died on 17 October 1901, had parents named Michael and Julia but as there are no other possible deaths of a woman of this name this death will be investigated. No Family Notice for this woman has yet been located but n search for a Funeral Notice hasn’t been undertaken for this year.

Bridget was not the woman who died in 1882 as her husband was identified as James who was the brother-in-law to a John PARSONS but it is not known whether this man was Sarah's uncle. Bridget did not die in 1906121 as this woman's husband was William. She was not the woman whose mother was Margaret as this woman had a sister named Mary TAYLOR and had married as Bridget HAYES in 1852.122 Their mother, Margaret had died on 13 August 1885. Bridget may have remarried James FRENCH in 1881123 in Newtown as this woman seems to have completely disappeared. Bridget didn't marry William BEADON in Young in 1883 as there were many children born to this last couple although this may have been the marriage of a sister of Sarah.

Updated March 2019

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